WWE reports second quarter earnings, Network sub update

July 31, 2014

WWE announced its 2nd Quarter earnings on Thursday.  The big news was that the WWE Network added just 33,000 subscribers from the 1st Quarter.  In addition, it reported laying off 7% of its work force.

While the number of subscribers is off from the company’s initial projections, the WWE indicated that the existing subscribers are happy with it.  The company indicated that the Network will roll out in its present form internationally.

Similar to how the UFC introduced pricing options for Fight Pass, the WWE will also roll out options to its current payment plans.  Fans can now pay $19.99 per month with no commitment to renew.  This is likely to grab those wanting to order specifically to watch a “PPV” event.  The other new option is that one can pay one time the $9.99 x 6 months.  These two options will be in addition to the current $9.99 per month plan with a 6 month commitment.

The WWE also announced a 10 year deal with Rogers  Communications in Canada for the Network to be a traditional pay-tv option.

Overall, WWE reported a Net loss of $14.5 million, or $0.19 per share compared to last year’s second quarter net income of $5.2 million or $0.07 per share.  The wide swing is due to the costs for the Network.

Payout Take:  WWE stock was up slightly to $12.48 on Thursday.  Unfortunately, when a company cuts jobs, the stock experiences a positive bump due in part to the belief that the company is addressing issues with excess.  The Hartford Courant states that 53 of the 762 positions with the company would be cut.  The article also states that the cuts “along with other efficiencies” should improve the operating income by $30 million (before depreciation and amortization) in 2015.

As for the Network, the number of gained subscribers at this point suggests that it will not reach its targeted goal of 1 million by the end of the year.

The Wrestling Post: Ventura wins defamation case

July 31, 2014

On Tuesday this week, a Minnesota jury found in favor of former governor and professional wrestler Jesse Ventura in a defamation case against the estate of a former Navy SEAL that wrote in his best-selling book about a fight with Ventura.  The jury awarded Ventura $1.8 million.

Ventura won $500,000 for his defamation claim as he denied getting into a fight with Chris Kyle, a former member of the Navy SEALs and elite sniper.  He also won $1.3 million for unjust enrichment.

Essentially, the book, “American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History,” written by Kyle included a part wherein he talked about an encounter at a bar in Coronado, California where a “celebrity SEAL” was talking a little too much.  In the book, he was referred to as “Scruff Face.”  Kyle stated that he punched him.  It came out in media interviews promoting the book that the “celebrity SEAL” was Ventura.

Ventura sued in 2012 and continued the suit against the estate of Kyle after Kyle died in a shooting at a Texas firing range. He claimed that the book caused him to lose earnings and alienated him from the SEAL community

Source:  NY Times

As a public figure, the standard for proving defamation is higher than that of a private person.  Ventura is considered as a public figure for a variety of reasons including formerly holding public office, performing as a wrestler and hosting a variety of television shows.

In honor of those that have taken the bar this week, here are the factors for defamation:

  1.  There must be a statement that has been published;
  2. The statement is false; and
  3. The false statement must cause injury.

For a public figure, like Ventura, to win a defamation claim, he must prove that the writer had knowledge that the information was false.

Payout Perspective:

There’s no indication that the estate of Kyle will appeal the ruling. It appears that insurance paid the defense for Kyle’s estate and presumably will pay the verdict.  Ventura states that the jury award will essentially pay off the lawyers.  The jury deliberated several days after closing arguments which some suspected that Ventura had proved his case and it was a matter of how much he would receive.  It would be interesting to know the evidence which showed that the incident retold in the book was false.

GGG on HBO: 758,000 viewers

July 31, 2014

ESPN’s Dan Rafael reports that Saturday night’s HBO Boxing event featuring Gennady Golovkin received 984,000 viewers peaking at 1.048 million.  However, the overall night only drew 758,000 live viewers per Nielsen Media Research (via BoxingScene.com)

The co-feature fight featuring Bryant Jennings against Mike Perez drew only 602,000 viewers with a peak of 780,000 viewers.  As noted by Jake Donovan’s Boxing Scene, the ratings are a disappointment for Golovkin as his previous showing on HBO drew more 1.4 million viewers.

Payout Perspective:

GGG’s win over Daniel Geale was impressive although the ratings were off from his previous appearances.  The fact that he is being pushed to be the next HBO fighter to be featured on PPV may raise a red flag.  The fights on HBO competed briefly with the overrun of the UFC on Fox 12 show in some markets as the end of the UFC main event coincided with the beginning of the HBO event.

Silva-Diaz set for Super Bowl Weekend 2015

July 30, 2014

The UFC announced Tuesday that recently re-signed Nick Diaz will face the returning Anderson Silva on January 31, 2015.  The card will be in Vegas although no venue was announced.

Silva will be back from recovering from having his leg broken at UFC 168.  Diaz will be back after contemplating retirement following his fight with Georges St. Pierre at UFC 158.

White had alluded to the possibility of the two matching up upon Diaz’s signing.  Upon announcement of the fight, social media went crazy with anticipation for the fight.

The event will be UFC 183 and will be the annual card the night before the Super Bowl.

Payout Perspective:

This may be one where the marketing and promotion of the fight may exceed the actual fight itself.  Diaz sold UFC 158 almost by himself.  We might see something similar here.  Certainly, this is a fight where the UFC can build some solid shoulder programming around.  There is the story of Silva’s recovery and rehabilitation from an injury we thought would end his career.  There is also the unpredictable Diaz.  As for the fight itself, it’s not clear what shape these fighters will be by Super Bowl weekend next year.

UFC on Fox 12: 2.5 million viewers

July 29, 2014

MMA Payout has learned from a Nielsen source that Saturday’s UFC on Fox 12 main card received a Live plus Same Day rating of 2.5 million viewers.  The rating falls in line with Fox shows during the summer and is better than UFC on Fox 11’s rating this past April.

UFC on Fox 1: 5.7 million

UFC on Fox 2: 4.57 million

UFC on Fox 3: 2.25 million

UFC on Fox 4: 2.36 million

UFC on Fox 5: 3.41 million

UFC on Fox 6: 4.22 million

UFC on Fox 7: 3.3 million

UFC on Fox 8: 2.38 million

UFC on Fox 9: 2.9 million

UFC on Fox 10: 3.22 million

UFC on Fox 11: 1.98 million

UFC on Fox 12: 2.5 million

UFC on Fox 12 received a 1.5 rating and 3 share. The peak occurred during the main event overrun at 3,427,000 viewers.  The event featuring Robbie Lawler defeating Matt Brown was first in all of the key demos for the organization.  Men 18-34 (1.3), Men 18-48 (1.5), Men 25-54 (1.7) and Adults 18-49 (1.0).

ufc on fox 12

Payout Perspective:

The ratings improved slightly from the summer event for Fox the past two years.  Notably, Lawler was on the July 2013 show last year too.  And, even though there was a title fight in 2013, it was Demetrious Johnson.  It seemed like the Lawler-Brown fight had a little more interest.  It also may have helped that the prelims were on the network as well.  The prelims scored an average of 1.3 million and the audience built through the evening.

UFC on Fox 12 Prelims on FOX: 1.3 million viewers

July 29, 2014

MMA Payout has learned from a Nielsen source that the UFC on Fox 12 Prelims drew an average viewership of 1.3 million.  It was the first time that Fox had aired the prelims on its network.

The network exposure helped the prelims which preceded the main card.  The last fight before the main card had Jorge Masvidal defeating Daron Cruickshank by unanimous decision.

 UFC on Fox Prelims on FS1

UFC on Fox 9 – 613,000 (Dec. 2013)

UFC on Fox 10 – 713,000 (Jan. 2014)

UFC on Fox 11 – 521,000 (April 2014)

UFC on Fox Prelims on FOX

UFC on Fox 12 – 1.3 million viewers (July 2014)

Payout Perspective:

An MLB game was on FS1 at the time of the Prelims on Fox.  Certainly the UFC would prefer these fights occurring on the network rather than FS1 based on the viewership.  More than doubling your viewership (from April) for the prelims is great for the UFC but one would think it’s up to Fox if it wants to give up the time slot.  I’m not sure Fox would want to do this come December for UFC on Fox 13.

Bellator 122: 582,000 viewers

July 29, 2014

MMA Payout has learned from a Nielsen source that Friday night’s Bellator MMA Summer Series on Spike TV drew an average viewership of 582,000 total viewers.  The peak for Bellator 122 occurred during the co-main event of Brandon Halsey defeating Brett Cooper which drew 807,000 viewers.

The overnight rating is down from last Friday’s re-air of Bellator’s May PPV.

Summer Series

06/06/14 – Bellator 121: 668,000 viewers, 904,000 peak

07/25/14 – Bellator 122: 582,000 viewers, 807,000 peak

Bellator 120 replay

07/18/14 – Bellator 120 replay:  890,000 viewers, 1.334,000 peak

Payout Perspective:

For those wondering, the Live+3 Day ratings for last week’s PPV re-air was 944,000 viewers with a peak at 1,418,000.  Last Friday’s Bellator 122 was not remarkable and actually ended early with Spike showing a Glory fight to fill in the last 10-15 minutes of the show.  If you were wondering, last year’s July Summer Series show drew 679,000 viewers although that show included Michael Chandler and Ben Askren.

UFC apparel deal likely to feature Rousey

July 28, 2014

UFC Senior Vice President Mike Mossholder states that Ronda Rousey will likely be the face of the UFC’s first official outfitting deal according to reports on FoxSports.com and AdWeek.

Although Mossholder did not indicate the clothier, he stated that the UFC were in active negotiations with a “premium apparel line” per the AdWeek article.  But, it appears to be an exclusive deal to outfit any UFC fighter that will step into the Octagon for the company.

Both articles state that a clothing deal could be a financial boon for the UFC as it listed Nike’s 5 year, $1.1 billion deal with the NFL as an example.

As an indicator of Rousey’s draw, the Adweek report states that Rousey is No. 3 in ticket sales for the UFC and Xyience sales jumped 12 percent when it place images of the women’s bantamweight champ on its cans.  Rousey has become the top requested athlete by UFC sponsors when it comes to fighters they want to endorse its brand.

Payout Perspective:

The overarching news here is that the UFC will have uniforms at some point.  The not so breaking news is that Ronda Rousey is star.  AdWeek identifies Nike, Under Armour and Adidas as potential clothing sponsors while Fox Sports also includes Reebok.  Each of the clothing sponsors have fighters it represents.  Notably, Adidas just signed Robbie Lawler (although Lawler wore no visible Adidas gear on Saturday), Under Armour worked with GSP, Reebok signed Anthony Pettis and Johny Hendricks and Nike has Jon Jones, Anderson Silva and Junior dos Santos.  We shall see what happens.  Whatever choice is made, we can expect Rousey to sport the gear in print ads and commercials.

The Wrestling Post: Spike TV does not renew TNA Impact Wrestling

July 28, 2014

TMZ Sports first reported that TNA Impact Wrestling on Spike TV will not be renewed by the network.  The company has been with Spike TV since October 2005.

While ratings usually hover around 1.2 million viewers on Thursday nights and once served as lead-in for Bellator, the promotion has fallen on hard times.  Attendance and finances have been the leading causes for the downturn in what is the de facto number 2 professional wrestling company.

According to Dave Meltzer on Sunday night’s Wrestling Observer podcast, the TMZ report has been confirmed by people within TNA.  The current deal runs through October although it’s not clear whether Spike TV will continue to air it through the end of the deal.

Recently, King Mo re-emerged with the organization and it’s not clear whether he will continue on as part-time wrestler, part-time MMA fighter if TNA continues on another network.

Payout Take:  It’s an interesting move on the part of Spike TV to cancel TNA as it does have a following of at least 1 million viewers each week.  Compare that with Bellator ratings and TNA would seemingly be safe on the network.  Perhaps TNA is going a different direction here.  As for TNA, it’s not clear if the company will fold or seek to find another network to air on.  But, if you look at the WWE’s rights fee deal, pro wrestling may not be a burgeoning property in the television industry.

UFC on Fox 12 overnight rating: 2.02 million viewers

July 27, 2014

MMA Fighting reports that the overnight ratings for Saturday’s UFC on Fox 12 drew an average of 2.02 million viewers in overnight ratings.  According to Television By Numbers, it tied with NBC for highest rated show on network television in its time slot.

UPDATED 07/28/14:

UFC on Fox 12 scored an 0.8 in the 18-49 demo.  Although tied with NBC, it had more viewers.

The ratings only count for the 5:00pm-7:00pm (8-10pm) time slot and does not account for the 30 minute overrun when the bulk of the main event took place.  Its anticipated that the rating should go up with the inclusion of the additional time.

UFC on Fox 1: 5.7 million

UFC on Fox 2: 4.57 million

UFC on Fox 3: 2.25 million

UFC on Fox 4: 2.36 million

UFC on Fox 5: 3.41 million

UFC on Fox 6: 4.22 million

UFC on Fox 7: 3.3 million

UFC on Fox 8: 2.38 million

UFC on Fox 9: 2.9 million

UFC on Fox 10: 3.22 million

UFC on Fox 11: 1.98 million

UFC on Fox 12:  2.02 million

Payout Perspective:

The last two summer events were less than stellar and the ratings reflected this with UFC on Fox 4 (Vera vs. Rua) and UFC on Fox 8 (Mighty Mouse vs. Moraga) doing 2.36 million and 2.38 million respectively.  Saturday’s event had a little more interest with a fight between two fan-friendly fighters.  Before we scrutinize the ratings, we should probably wait for the overrun numbers as UFC on Fox 4 and 8 ratings include the overruns.  At this point, it’s unfair to critique the show since we may see it surpass the ratings of the last two summers.

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